Celebrating 30 years of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

30th anniversary of the show that changed the world.

Photo of Will Smith, lead actor of the series.

Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Will Smith, lead actor of the series.

Leah Maupin, Staff Writer

30 years ago, one of the world’s most popular shows premiered for the very first time on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network. 

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ” was an American sit-com created by Andy and Susan Borowitz, and it was loosely based on television producer Benny Medina’s life. It follows a teenager played by Will Smith, who grew up in West Philadelphia. His mother, fearing her son’s safety and ability to grow in an under-serviced black community, sends him to live with their wealthy relatives in Bel-Air, California.

After first premiering, it ranked #12 on the list of top shows on the NBC network, but the following year it ascended to #2 on the list. It had almost 20-million viewers tuned in weekly.

The sit-com was the first show that helped create a new black socio-cultural movement by allowing its characters to run against social and cultural prejudices African-Americans had been subjected to for so long. The main message of “The Fresh Prince” was to display and stop discrimination and hate between the upper and lower class people.

Fresh Prince won a “Top TV” award in the “ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Film and Television Music Awards” and with many publications referring to it as one of the “Greatest Sit-coms of All Time”. This was mainly because “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was different from your average sit-com at the time. 

Although many people thought it was similar to another famous sit-com, “The Cosby Show”, because of the setting being a depiction of an upper-class African American family. What set “The Fresh Prince” apart from “The Cosby Show” was the character Will Smith, whose different personality and background challenged the Banks’s bourgeois identity.

In 2020, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion” was released. The reunion features the entire cast looking back on their 6 years and seasons they shared together. The heartwarming documentary received a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score and it can be found on the network, HBO Max.

While being a comedy sit-com, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” shed light into many personal issues black families were facing in the United States, such as police brutality, divorce, racism, school, and family values. It captivated the younger generation and taught morals and ethics kids might not have learned in their homes.